Dubai: Fernando Gaviria gave himself a birthday treat and the 17th podium finish of the season for UAE Team Emirates after the Colombian rider won Stage 2 of the Tour du Limousin, late on Wednesday.
Gaviria, who turned 26, outsprinted Joel Suter of the Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles team after a breathless finale while triggering the winning seven-man move with a fierce acceleration on the rolling run-in at Grand Etang de Saint-Esteph.
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Suter’s second place was enough to lift him into the overall lead and the Swiss rider is level on time with previous leader Luca Wackermann (Vini Zabú-KTM), but takes the jersey by dint of his higher placings on the first two stages.
Kevin Ledanois of Team Arkea-Samsic took third place on the stage at two seconds, just ahead of Michael Storer (Sunweb), while the fragmented peloton came home at seven seconds.
“I’m really happy, it’s my birthday and I wanted to give myself a present,” Gaviria said later.
“We wanted to try yesterday but the penultimate climb was too hard for me. It was a complicated finish. I knew I had to take the descent on the front, I tried and I was able to win a very nice stage. For tomorrow, I don’t know as I spent a lot of energy today,” the Colombian added.
In a finish marked by narrow roads with punchy climbs, Gaviria saw himself with strong legs, jumping from the bunch and countering the many attacks on the run-in inside 12km to go. With 25km still left, the gap to the breakaway hovered at around 2’30 but with some strong pulls on the front from team captain Marco Marcato and his other UAE teammates the gap was quickly reduced to the three escapees.
Gaviria went on the offensive with 9km to go as the peloton was lined out after the ascent of the Côte de Nontron-La Manganèze, and he persisted in tracking aggressive counter-attacks from the AG2R La Mondiale duo Quentin Jauregui and Geoffrey Bouchard.
Seven riders were at the head of the race beneath the flamme rouge, with Suter, Gaviria, Jauregui, Bouchard, Storer and Ledanois joined by Alessandro Fedeli (Nippo Delko One Provence).
The key move came just a kilometre from the line, when Suter moved clear with Gaviria quickly jumping on his wheel. The Colombian unleashed his trademark sprint with 200m to go to win comfortably and claim the team’s 17th victory of the season.